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Prayer service organized for COVID-19 patients, health care workers

Warren County churches will be joining churches and prayer groups across Mississippi Sunday at 2:30 p.m. for Mission Mississippi’s Healing Mississippi outdoor prayer service for patients of COVID-19 and the health care workers caring for them.

“We have somewhere between 10-20 churches already committed to coming out, black and white congregations,” said the Rev. Dexter Jones, pastor of Triumph Church in the Kings community who is the local organizer for the event. “We’re still contacting pastors.”

Jones said the prayer service “is a great idea. My household has suffered with COVID this year. We’re coming out of the COVID and I think it’s needed. Prayer changes things and the Bible said we should always pray. I believe it is a great opportunity for the churches, for the community to come together as we pray and ask God that he turn this thing around and remove this virus, this pandemic, out of our country.”

According to information from Mission Mississippi, Healing Mississippi involves people praying outdoors at hospitals and other health facilities across Mississippi.

Bishop Ronnie Crudup of New Harvest Church International, who is organizing the event statewide, said he got the idea for the prayer service from friends in South Africa who were holding a similar program.

“I, and a couple of other pastors thought it would be a great idea, certainly because of the need centered around COVID-19 and our health care workers,” he said. “We decided to invite churches and prayer groups and just citizens in general to come on the 31st because there is no football.”

Healing Mississippi, he said, “Is an event everybody can agree on and can do, and that is go to our local hospitals and pray for patients of COVID-19 and their families and also pray for hospital staff for their strength and encouragement as they fight this fight.”

Crudup said the program has received a good response.

“We’ve got the (state) hospital association that has approved this and is encouraging hospitals across the state. We’ve got every denomination in the state involved,” he said. “It crosses every demographic — race, politics, economics, so we’re just looking for everybody.”

Crudup said Mission Mississippi is letting the hospitals know that the event “is a prayer meeting and not a protest and we’ve guaranteed the hospitals in the sense of getting in the way; we won’t block any entrances.

“In fact, we’re asking people to park away from the hospitals and we’ll all be outside and away from any direct entrances so we shouldn’t be a problem for the hospitals.”

Jones said he has talked with officials at Merit Health River Region “and we’ve got everything in place. Everything is a go.” He said the hospital will provide security and Warren County sheriff’s deputies will also be on site.

Crudup said the event is expected to last about an hour. When people arrive, he said there will be an initial gathering where they will receive instructions and people will be asked to spread around the building.

“People will then pray individually,” he said. “People will be asked to pray 20 minutes for patients of COVID-19 and other people in the hospital and then another 20 minutes for the hospital staff and then we’ll dismiss.

Locally, Jones said pastors will be leading in certain areas of prayer with the participants praying with the pastors.

“I will be out there between 1:30 and 2 to make sure everything is set up,” Jones said. “At 2:30, we will start on time.

Crudup said people are encouraged people to wear T-shirts from their church and bring banners.

“We’ll be doing social distancing, asking people to wear masks so they’ll be safe while they do this. And since we’re outside, they can pray as loud as they want.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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